Staying Friends After a Divorce

At our firm, we always aspire to make a divorce as painless as possible. As our tagline states, we want “conversation, not war.” Our biggest hope is that the spouses can part not only amicably, but also as friends. We love hearing from our clients who report back and tell us that they were able to remain friendly after their split.

However, we also understand that all couples and all divorces are different. Sometimes, parting as friends just isn’t an option. We do not encourage you to attempt a friendship with someone who is not healthy for you. Sometimes, it is simply better to part ways and move on with your lives.

If you do wish to continue your relationship as friends, we would like to offer you some things to consider.

Ask Yourself If This Is What You Really Want

We recognize that divorce sometimes causes hard, bitter feelings. Before embarking on a friendship with your ex, search your feelings. Be completely selfish, and don’t worry about what they want. This is about you, what you want, and what you need.

Think about how hurt you are. By this, we do not mean grief. We are talking about how injured you feel by this relationship. Is that something you can get over? Do you even want to get over it? We are often encouraged to “forgive and forget,” but realistically, that’s not always an option. If you feel completely betrayed by your ex, you must overcome those feelings to be friends. Is the resulting friendship worth the effort of that emotional work?

Think about the relationship itself. Was it inherently bad? Has time away from your ex made you see the relationship differently? Genuinely ask yourself if it will benefit you to have this person in your life. Considers ways that their reentry could complicate matters or put you in hard emotional spaces. It’s never easy to say goodbye, but it may be the healthiest choice for you.

Don’t Force It . . .

You know that you want to remain friends, and your ex has expressed the same desire. Give it time. You need to grieve, and so do they. If they need more time, give them more. Wait on them to approach you. If you need more time, take it, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured. You have your whole life ahead of you, and there’s no need to try fast-tracking a friendship.

Allow yourselves to reconnect naturally. Yes, there is a history there, but you are also starting over. Something good initially brought you together. There was probably a friendship that was the basis for your relationship. Focus on that. Remember what you like about one another, and make that the foundation of your new relationship. Right now, it needn’t go further than that. If the relationship takes on deeper dimensions, it should happen on its own without attempts to make it so.

. . . But Remember to Work at It

All relationships take some degree of work. Even the most superficial ones demand time, energy, and so forth. In this situation, it’s a safe bet that attempting a friendship will be difficult. There is a long, complicated history between you two, and it must be overcome. Feelings and events that you think are buried can pop up at any time, and that can put a strain on your new relationship.

Trust may be an issue. Something tore your relationship apart, and very likely, at least one of you feels betrayed. Keep this in mind as you pursue this friendship, and remember that it goes both ways. There are probably things you don’t trust about them, and vise versa. It may take time for you to trust one another again, and that’s something you will have to work on as a team.

If a real friendship is your goal, do it together. Make it a project, something that can become the foundation of the friendship. Have compassion for one another, and remember that you both have sensitive areas. These are things you can overcome together, or you can agree to leave them alone. Keep taking baby steps. Working as a team with your eyes on the same outcome, you can get there.

Keep It in the Friend Zone

Always remember what’s happening here. This is absolutely not the rekindling of a romance. This is about being buddies, pals, amigos, compadres, and other neutral terms. There is a reason you divorced, and you should always respect that.

If you still have romantic longings for your ex, do not pursue this friendship. This is only going to complicate things. At worst, it’s going to lead to hurt feelings on both sides. You’ll be disappointed and sad that you’re not getting what you want, and they’ll be angry that you wanted more than just the friendship.

Do not have sex. That part of your relationship is over forever. You can tell yourself that you can be just “friends with benefits.” Some people can manage that kind of relationship, and maybe you are one of them. However, sex with this person is almost always going to go beyond the carnal. One of you will probably have old feelings crop up, and this is exactly what you don’t want.

How the Divorce Process Can Help

Believe it or not, the method by which your divorce can contribute to a future friendship. If you endure an ugly courtroom battle, it’s unlikely that you will associate positive feelings with one another. In fact, your lasting impression could be as combatants, fighting for your respective “wins.”

There is a better way, a way that could make the divorce a collaborative project. You always have the option to make decisions on your own. Anything from property division to child custody can be agreed upon, written down, and submitted to the courts. Once it clears the necessary legal requirements, the divorce is official.

Of course, in an imperfect world, it’s not always that easy. Regardless of your sincere intentions to work together, you may need some help. We recommend that you consider mediation. Through this process, you can avoid court and still obtain legal guidance. A legal professional will work with you, keeping communication lines open. They will help you hear each other’s needs, and they can help keep talks reasonable should they become heated.

By collaborating, you will have agency over what happens. No one will be “forced” or “ordered” to do anything because you both consented to all decisions. If your goal is to remain friends, working together will go a long way toward that end.

We are here to help if you want to collaborate on your divorce. For a free consultation, fill out our online contact form, or call (949) 558-2624.

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